About the Conference

Out of the conference’s brief:
"The Steel Days are a forum to focus on the use of steel, and more broadly on any other metal, for humanitarian shelter. Exchange, generate and test ideas are the main targets: diversifying, opening-up and challenging the use of steel in humanitarian shelter rather than setting a standard. The participating partners - private, academic and humanitarian – have thus been selected because their products, reflections and practices can stimulate a productive debate. We aim at addressing the broad spectrum of steel for shelter, not those few practices that we already know and already agree on.

The Steel Days conference was organised by the IFRC SRU in November 2011 to address the use of steel in humanitarian sheltering; we saw a gap, and an opportunity to respond.
Steel is frequently used in emergency, transitional, recovery and long term interventions. It is an element used by itself or in combination with other materials due to its comparative benefits. It can be locally produced, it is stable and resistant, recyclable and can have an affordable price while bringing great added strength etc. It’s never been focused on by the humanitarian community that much before, whereas the opportunities to apply it in a profitable manner are great, and the innovation options apparent.
The conference touched upon 3 main themes:
Theme 1: Steel products/ elements use to reinforce & repair existing structures: connection elements, gabions, wires, plates, straps etc. They can be used in combination with other materials.
Theme 2: Everything that is transitional / temporary housing: those in-between structures that are quite resistant, but in the same time not quite strong enough to build a multi-generations life in it.
Theme 3: Everything that is more durable; core shelter, pre-fab housing.

Participation and agenda:
The Steel Days conference brought together about 75 professionals from academic research and teaching institutions of the Greater Region and Western Europe, steel product producers (Luxembourg, Europe and the US), and from humanitarian agencies operational in sheltering. Two 2 days were spent on presentations, a producer’s display, Q&A and discussion sessions. Some of the research projects done in collaboration with the IFRC SRU previous to the conference were shared.
P0: Key note speeches by Madame Marianne Donven (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Luxembourg), Mr Jean Lamesch (FVEMT), Mr Marc Crochet (Luxembourg Red Cross)
P1: Steel in humanitarian sheltering: set the stakes, by Jim Kennedy
P2: Steel in humanitarian sheltering: the current options and innovation, by Kaat Boon (IFRC SRU)
P3: Engineering humanitarian steel (versus best practice), by Roel Gijsbers (TU/e)
P4: A pre-fabricated system for social housing tested and built, by Jean-Yves L Hostis (ArcelorMittal)
P5: Sheltering in emergencies, by Milton Funes (CHF)
P6: Display of various shelter solutions on the market
P7: Two case studies from Vietnam, by Eelko Brouwer and Corinne Treherne (NLRC and IFRC)
P8: Affordable housing for low to middle income households, by Robin Black (Habitat for Humanity)
P9: Retro-fitting before and after disaster, by Michal Sladek (Independent researcher IFRC SRU)
P10: Retro-fitting and reinforcement of shelters using steel: cases, by William Flinn (CENDEP, Oxford-Brookes University)
P11: A modular component frame systems for sheltering, by Caroline Henrotay and Heikki Vanderlinden (VUB)